Cardiac rehabilitation is recommended for anyone who has had a heart problem, such as a heart attack, heart failure, or heart surgery. Studies have found that cardiac rehabilitation helps men and women, people of all ages, and people with mild, moderate, and severe heart problems. The goals of cardiac rehabilitation include establishing a plan to help you regain strength, prevent your condition from worsening, reduce your risk of future heart problems, and improve your health and quality of life.
People of all ages with heart conditions can benefit from a cardiac rehab program.
You may benefit if you have or have experienced a:
- heart attack (myocardial infarction)
- heart condition, such as coronary artery disease (CAD), angina or heart failure
- heart procedure or surgery, including coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) surgery, percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI, including coronary or balloon angioplasty and stenting), valve replacement, a pacemaker or implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD)
What is Cardiac Rehabilitation?
Cardiac rehabilitation doesn’t change your past, but it can help you improve your heart’s future.
Cardiac rehab is a medically supervised program designed to improve your cardiovascular health if you have experienced heart attack, heart failure, angioplasty or heart surgery. Cardiac rehab has three equally important parts:
- Exercise counseling and training: Exercise gets your heart pumping and your entire cardiovascular system working. You’ll learn how to get your body moving in ways that promote heart health.
- Education for heart-healthy living: A key element of cardiac rehab is educating yourself: How can you manage your risk factors? Quit smoking? Make heart-healthy nutrition choices?
- Counseling to reduce stress: Stress hurts your heart. This part of cardiac rehab helps you identify and tackle everyday sources of stress.
How will I Benefit From Cardiac Rehab?
Following a diagnosis of heart attack or heart failure, or after a procedure such as an angioplasty or heart surgery, participating in cardiac rehab is one of the best things you can do for your heart. Cardiac rehab helps you regain control of your health.
Cardiac rehab doesn’t change your past, but it can help you improve your heart’s future. Every little step you take toward heart health helps you take the next step, and the step after that. Fair warning: It’s not always easy. It’s not always fun.
But cardiac rehab is how you can lower your risk of a second cardiac event. It’s the path to feeling better than before.
Here are a few ways you will benefit from participating in cardiac rehab. You will:
- Lower your risk of a future cardiac event
- Eat better
- Lose weight
- Return to work
- Engage in daily activities you might have missed
Understanding Your Heart Condition:
Coronary artery disease (CAD), which leads to heart attack, is the most common type of heart condition. Atherosclerosis, the buildup of plaque in the inner walls of the arteries, is a major cause of coronary artery disease. Much of your cardiac rehab treatment plan centers on minimizing or reversing atherosclerosis through lifestyle changes and medicines.
No matter what condition brought you to cardiac rehab, learning how it developed and may progress may help you understand why it's so important to achieve your treatment goals.
Visit the American Heart Association Website to learn more about the following heart conditions:
- Cardiac Arrest
- Congenital Heart Defects
- Heart Attack (Coronary Heart Disease or Coronary Artery Disease)
- Heart Failure
- Heart Valve Disease
- Peripheral Artery Disease
Is Cardiac Insurance Covered By Insurance?
Medicare and most other insurers provide reimbursement for cardiac rehab undertaken after most of the conditions outlined above.
*Exceptions may include cardiac rehab in the wake of procedures to implant a pacemaker or implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD). And coverage after heart failure is limited to patients with a heart that has very limited ability to pump out blood. (In medical terms, this is called a “compromised ejection fraction,” which affects about half of the population with heart failure.)
Check with your medical team and insurer to determine if cardiac rehab is covered under your insurance plan.